Category Archives: Elections

Sanders to hold campaign kick-off Tuesday in Burlington

MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a formal campaign kick-off event for his presidential bid on Tuesday at Burlington’s Waterfront Park, his campaign announced Wednesday.

Sanders, Vermont’s junior senator in Washington, has already filed to become a candidate, but plans to announce his candidacy along the shore of Lake Champlain in the city where his political career began as mayor in 1981. The independent promises free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and live music.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders

“My hometown of Burlington and the people of Vermont have a special place in my heart. There is nowhere else in the world where I would hold an event this important,” Sanders said in a statement.

The self-described democratic socialist is sure to provide many of his trademark assaults on the “billionaire class” and the income inequality he says is plaguing America.

“The formal kickoff will set the stage for the campaign to come. I will lay out an ‘Agenda for America’ which addresses the major crises we face and a vision of a government which works for all of our people and not just the billionaire class,” Sanders said.

The even will take place at 5 p.m. along Burlington’s waterfront. It will be moved to Memorial Auditorium in Burlington in the event of rain.

Sanders’ campaign announced he will then travel to New Hampshire, the site of the nation’s first primary, on Wednesday, before heading to Iowa, site of the first presidential caucus, on Thursday.

Capitol Beat 5-11-15


Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Editor Steve Pappas and Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami discuss the sexual assault case against Sen. Norm McAllister, R-Franklin, the last week of the session and Bernie Sanders.

From the Bernie Files: “These politicians are sold like soap…”

Bernard Sanders, c. 1981

Bernard Sanders, c. 1981

We’re looking through the Rutland Herald archives for news clips from Bernie Sanders’ past, and will post the more telling or interesting ones as we find them. One theme that stands out so far is that Bernie Sanders, 1970s Liberty Union Party leader, is not too far off Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent. They say basically the same thing.
From an article by Rutland Herald reporter Barney Crosier, published on Nov. 7, 1976, which was based on an interview Sanders gave to a local Springfield radio station:

“…he said a major goal of the Liberty Union when it gets the governor’s chair will be to involve ordinary working people, those with low incomes, and the elderly, in the decisions of state government.
“”We’d be delighted to ask 50,000 people to come to Montpelier to say what they think about a system that robs people blind,” he offered.
He claimed the working person, at a job 40, 50 or 60 hours a week, doesn’t have time to go to Montpelier and can’t afford to have an attorney represent him there.
Sanders contended the people of the state are beginning to see through the election process, in which the Liberty Union candidate says a candidate can spend $100,000 and “buy” the election.
“These politicians are sold like soap,” he added. And it doesn’t matter how dumb they are.”
Sanders chided past administrations for their decision to spend time and money luring tourists to Vermont, saying it was a good way to get Vermont working people jobs at the minimum wage, making beds for tourists.
He also hit at the move of General Electric Co. from Ludlow to Rutland, saying the people of Rutland had to pay for water service to the new plant site, thuse subsidizing one of the nation’s rich corporations, of which the major stockholder is Chase Manhattan Bank.”

All this came after he claimed Vermont was a two-party state, as there was little to no difference between the Democrat and Republican parties, leaving the Liberty Union as the opposition.

Sanders makes his case on ‘This Week’

Sen. Bernie Sanders made his first appearance on a Sunday morning talk this past weekend as a declared presidential candidate. Vermont’s independent junior senator defended his brand of democratic socialism to ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos. Watch his full appearance below.

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Sanders donors respond to campaign announcement

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he has raised $1.5 million online in the first day since launching his Democratic presidential campaign.

The independent senator says he has received contributions from 35,000 donors, and more than 100,000 people have signed up on his website.

Sanders filed papers to run for president on Thursday, becoming the first major challenger to enter the race against Hillary Rodham Clinton. She opened her campaign earlier this month.

Clinton is heavily favored but Sanders has positioned himself as a liberal who intends to promote economic and environmental issues and oppose contentious trade legislation.

Sanders plans to make stops Saturday in New Hampshire, the home of the nation’s first presidential primary. It will be his 10th trip to New Hampshire in the past year.

Sanders considers campaign logistics as he mulls presidential bid

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is considering the details of how a presidential campaign might look and operate as he nears a decision on whether to run, according to an advisor who met with the state’s junior senator over the weekend.

Tad Devine, a veteran campaign operative who worked on the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, huddled with Sanders and others in Vermont over the weekend to continue discussions that have been ongoing for months. A decision from the 73-year-old self-described democratic socialist is expected by the end of the month, according to Devine.

“If he’s going to do this it’s going to be a serious campaign. It’s not going to be a symbolic campaign. It’s not going to be Bernie walking around by himself talking to people and maybe having a debate or two later in the year,” he said Monday.

Sanders’ interest in running for president is no secret — he’s flirted with the idea since last year and has traveled several times to Iowa and New Hampshire where the first primary contests take place. But his interest in running has always included some caveats — is there enough support for his vision around the country, and can he raise enough money to compete with Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady who announced her own bid Sunday in a video.

Tad Devine

Tad Devine

Recent trips to Texas, California and Nevada have shown Sanders there is support for his message, according to Devine.

“I think what he’s learning is that there’s a lot of support out there for a … progressive candidate that wants to talk about the issues that he wants to talk about,” Devine said.

Sanders is finding that people are concerned about climate change. And, Devine said, they worry about the impact of the Citizens United court case on American democracy and “the fact that campaigns are no longer about candidates raising money and running campaigns under their own banner.”

“That’s something that he really is finding as he travels around the country that is really there that previously didn’t exist,” Devine said.

Sanders issued a statement Sunday following Clinton’s announcement. Calling the former Democratic New York senator “an experienced and well-qualified leader,” Sanders urged her and other candidates to speak about the issues he cares about.

“During this campaign, it is imperative that Secretary Clinton, like every other candidate, address the great challenges of our time: the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that is crushing our middle class; high unemployment and low wages; the threat that global climate change presents to our future and the future of our children; and the fact that democracy itself is at risk because of the catastrophic decision of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case which is allowing billionaires to spend unlimited sums to buy the government of United States,” Sanders said. “I hope that Secretary Clinton will speak out on these and other important issues in the days and weeks ahead.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Devine said Sanders understands Clinton has “enormous support,” vast resources and experience from her failed 2008 bid. But a Sanders campaign will focus on promoting his own ideas, not running against Clinton.

“I think one of the things that he understands … is that if he’s going to succeed in this process it’s not going to be by reacting to her in any way. He’s got to plot a distinctive, strategic course to success,” Devine said. “Reacting to Hillary or dealing with her in that respect, no, that’s not really a consideration.”

What is a consideration is whether to run at all, Sanders and his advisors say. Should he choose to run, Sanders will “take some actionable steps” by the end of the month, according to Devine. He declined to comment on the “technical stuff,” like whether Sanders would launch an exploratory committee or a full-throated campaign by May.

“There are many hours to be spent with many lawyers and compliance people before you answer that question. We’ve already had some of that discussion,” Devine said.

If there is a campaign, look for its headquarters to be nestled in the Green Mountains.

“Certainly, if he decides to do this, I think Vermont is probably the best place to sort of center the campaign like [former Gov.] Howard Dean did. He’s got a lot of resources there that know him that want to contribute,” Devine said.

And the resources, including a devoted following willing to work on Sanders’ behalf, are conveniently located right across the Connecticut River from the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

“Being next to New Hampshire is a very good thing for candidates,” Devine said. “All those decisions haven’t been made yet. If he decides to do this he’ll probably want to look at taking advantage of his assets.”

Devine’s media consulting firm, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, will help guide Sanders’ media strategy if he runs, but the campaign will be run by others.

“Presidential campaigns, they should be run by young people. Guys like me give a lot of advice and maybe have sense of how things work, having done it before,” he said. “We’ll be involved but if he does this we’re going to have to get some good people involved.”

Capitol Beat 4-6-15


Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal P. Goswami and VPB reporter Josh O’Gorman talk health care, education, voter registration and the week ahead at the State House in this week’s episode.

Senate passes Election Day registration, defeats ID requirement

MONTPELIER — The Senate passed an election day registration bill Wednesday after defeating an amendment that would have required voters using the provision to provide voter identification.

The legislation, which passed on a voice vote, would allow residents to register to vote on the day of an election. Under current law, a person who wants to cast a vote on Election Day must be registered to vote by the previous Wednesday.

Proponents said the bill will provide greater access to voting booths for Vermonters.

“I am extremely grateful to the Senate for taking up and passing Election Day voter registration with overwhelming support. The support showed by the vote indicates that the Senate appreciates that this is truly a voter rights issue,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said Wednesday.

Franklin County Sen. Dustin Degree, a Republican, tried to amend the bill to require photo identification in order to register on the day of an election. He said the bill in question “doesn’t have any of the safe guards that other states do.”

Sen. Dustin Degree

Sen. Dustin Degree

According to Degree, nine of the 10 states that currently allow same day registration require a valid photo ID. He said six of the states have a provisional ballot process for potential voters that do not have the proper identification.

Degree said has “been convinced by the articles and the studies that have been done that say election day registration can be both effective and a safe way to enhance voter participation.” But additional safeguards to avoid fraud would be better, he said.

“My fear is that while we are citing wonderful studies that show the benefits of election day registration, we don’t have any of the safeguards that other states have. We have none of them,” Degree said.

Most of his colleagues in the Senate disagreed, rejecting the amendment on a 7 to 21.

Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham, said her committee was split on Degree’s proposal and did not take a formal position. White said she personally found that it created “two tiers of voters in Vermont,” including a “second level of voter who isn’t quite a full voter unless they can show the valid photo ID.”

Democratic Windham County Sen. Becca Balint said voter fraud is “extremely rare.” Laws requiring identification “are designed to restrict people from voting,” she said, and disproportionately impact the young, elderly, minorities and the poor.

Sen. Becca Balint

Sen. Becca Balint

“It’s critical that we ensure the integrity of our elections, but we should not undermine free and fair access to the ballot under the guise of voter fraud,” Balint said.

Degree’s fellow Republican, Sen. Diane Snelling of Chittenden County, call the amendment “well-intentioned but troubling.”

“It’s hard not to think about southern states that are trying to prevent people from voting,” she said. “I’m not saying this is that but it does remind me of it.”

Condos, following Wednesday’s votes, echoed many of the arguments made by senator’s against the amendment.

“Sen. Degree’s amendment would have changed the way we register voters — it would have created a second tier of registration just for Election Day that systematically targets students, new residents, the elderly, and Vermonters living in rural areas of the state. These Vermonters are fully eligible to vote but may not have the very specific forms of identification laid out in the amendment,” he said.

Julia Michel, a democracy advocate for VPIRG, hailed the bill’s passage Wednesday.

“With the Senate’s vote today it’s pretty clear they view the bigger problem being a lack of voter participation rather than unsubstantiated cases of fraud. VPIRG is thrilled. This is a good day for democracy,” she said.

The legislation now moves to the House for its consideration.

Election-day voter registration moves forward

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers are taking a step that could increase voter participation.

By a vote of 20 to 7 Thursday afternoon, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow residents to register to vote on the day of an election. Currently, an individual who wishes to cast a vote on a Tuesday must have registered to vote by the previous Wednesday.

“Those of us in this building spend a lot of time thinking about elections, but most people don’t,” said Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham. “People move or go into long-term care facilities in a town where they were not originally registered to vote and didn’t get engaged until the last moment. That doesn’t mean they’re uninformed.”

Under the terms of the bill, an individual could show up at a polling place the day of an election and present documentation of residency as required by federal law, such as photo identification or a utility bill. Either the town clerk or members of the municipality’s board of civil authority would review the documentation, and if approved, the individual would be a allowed to vote that day.

Currently, 13 states, and the District of Columbia, allow election-day voter registration.

“This is a voter-rights issue,” said Sec. Of State James Condos, following the vote. “This is for the benefit of the voter, for the benefit of the citizens to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot.”

According to Condos, places that have election-day voter registration have seen their rates of participation rise 10-12 percent since implementation.

Several senators expressed concern that election-day voter registration could lead to voter fraud, including Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland — who voted for the bill — and Dustin Degree, R-Franklin, who did not.

“There are lots of problems with elections with the system we have now,” Degree said. “I think the integrity of our elections is more important than increased participation.”

White disagreed that the bill could open up the door to more voter fraud.

“There is no more potential for voter fraud than there is under the current system we use now,” White said. “If someone wants to commit fraud now, all they have to do is say they registered when they renewed their driver’s license.”

Condos downplayed the idea that voter fraud is much of an issue at all.
“We have a hard enough time getting people to vote once, never mind voting twice” Condos said “Voter fraud is really nonexistent in this country. There have been many, many accusations, but they usually filter out and there will be a logical reason for what happened.”

The bill is expected to come before the Senate for final approval Friday.

Capitol Beat with the Governor 3-6-15


Gov. Peter Shumlin sits down with Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal P. Goswami and discusses recent poll numbers on his job performance.

Labor costs, guns and organs: Capitol Beat, Feb. 16, 2015


Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami and VPB reporter Josh O’Gorman chat about the showdown between the Shumlin administration and the Vermont State Employee’s Association over labor costs, the state of gun legislation in the State House and a bill that would make organ donation the default option in Vermont. Also, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Editor Steve Pappas talks about a few stories he’s worked on in the past couple of weeks, including a profile of Rep. Janet Ancel and Sen. Tim Ashe, the lawmakers that chair the taxing committees in the State House. He also updates on a potential second bid for governor by Republican Scott Milne. Lots going on in this episode — have a listen.

Check out recent episodes of City Room with Steve Pappas, which are discussed in today’s podcast episode:

Scott Milne episode

Paul Costello and Ted Brady episode

Vermont lawmakers consider changing election rules

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont Senate Committee is scheduled Wednesday to take up an amendment to the state Constitution that could make it easier to elect a governor and other top officials.

The Senate Government Operations Committee is looking at a range of proposals to get rid of the current rule in the Vermont Constitution that governors, lieutenant governors and treasurers must get more than 50 percent of the vote to be elected. That came into play this year when the Legislature had to re-elect Gov. Peter Shumlin who failed to win an outright majority in November.

Proposals range from allowing a plurality winner to take the election to instant runoff voting.

Podcast: Capitol Beat with the Governor 1-9-15


Gov. Peter Shumlin sits down with Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal Goswami for the first Capitol Beat with the Governor podcast of the legislative session.

After being re-elected to a third term by lawmakers on Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin delivered his inaugural address amid protests over his decision to shelve a universal, publicly financed health care system because of its cost. Listen to this week’s episode to hear the governor address all of it.

Gov. Peter Shumlin records the Capitol Beat podcast on Friday.

Gov. Peter Shumlin records the Capitol Beat podcast on Friday.


Shumlin elected to 3rd term by lawmakers

MONTPELIER — Vermont Lawmakers have re-elected Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin to a third term, ending months of uncertainty since the mid-term election.

Shumlin received 110 votes from the 180 members of the Democratic-led Legislature. Republican Scott Milne tallied 69 votes.

Gov. Peter Shumlin

Gov. Peter Shumlin

The Legislature fulfilled its constitutional duty to elect a governor Thursday morning after no candidate received a majority of the popular vote in November. Shumlin, at the time, edged out Milne by just 2,434 votes, but only garnered about 46 percent of the votes cast. Milne received about 45 percent of the vote, while Libertarian Dan Feliciano received 4 percent support.

Milne had launched a campaign of sorts in recent days, running targeted ads on social media. He also received the benefit of television ads paid for by a group called Vermonters for Honest Government, founded and funded by Derby resident Bill Round.

Scott Milne

Scott Milne

The governor is due to deliver his inaugural address in the House chamber Thursday afternoon.

A full story will appear in Friday’s editions of the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald.

Official tally shows Shumlin wins plurality; Milne has today to challenge

Scott Milne

Scott Milne

MONTPELIER – An official tally shows Gov. Peter Shumlin received 2,434 more votes than Republican challenger Scott Milne during last week’s election.

Wednesday morning, the Canvassing Committee – consisting of representatives from the state Democrat, Liberty Union, progressive and Republican parties – met at the Sec. of State’s Office to sign off on official voter results, which confirmed the unofficial results that have been posted online for the past few days.

Shumlin received 89,509 votes, compared with 87,075 for Milne, which gave Shumlin a 1.3-percent edge over his closest competitor. Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano finished third in a field of seven with 8,428 votes.

With such a narrow margin, Milne has the right to request a recount, and has until the end of the day to do so.

Neither candidate received more than 50 percent of votes overall – Shumlin received 46.4 percent to Milne’s 45.1 percent – which leaves the final decision in the hands of the Legislature in January.